Country & Legal: Draft Infrastructure Bill

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This article was published in Blackmore Vale Magazine on 6 February 2015.

Now dear readers it seems you don’t have to be an astronaut to have an alien encounter. For those of you who are landowners, the draft Infrastructure Bill threatens to allow environmental authorities to compel you to control and exterminate the non-natives on your land. These not so extra-terrestrial species can be defined as species which pose serious threats to environmental, social or economical interests and can include any kind of animal, insect or plant which is not a natural species of the UK in a wild state.

It seems unfair, but this is a government initiative following claims that current legislation is ineffective and the alien threat is costing the UK more than £1.6 billion each year. It proposes that the Environmental Authority and landowner will be able to enter into a Species Control Agreement (SCA) which will state the requirements and costing obligations related to the eradication of the non-natives. Should no agreement be made through refusal or disagreement etc. a Species Control Order (SPO) can be issued instead.

The proposed enforcement powers for the Environmental Authority mean that the terms of the SCA or SPO will be implemented and costs can be recovered. The landowner is also at risk of imprisonment for up to 51 weeks for non compliance.

As I have already said, this Bill is still only in draft form and there are several questions which will need to be answered before implementation. For example, what is to be done about species which have been native to the UK in the past such as the European beaver and what rights to enter should the Environmental Authority should be granted.

It may be in the not so far distant future that you need to worry about the crops as well as the crop circles!